There is a lot of debate in the media at the moment about the low milk prices that many dairy farmers are receiving.
This is something that we take very seriously and that’s why we have had a dedicated pool of dairy farmers that supply our stores with fresh liquid milk. Around 40 family farms across the UK provide regionally sourced milk into our stores under our Milk Pledge Plus payment scheme – something that we’ve had in place for 15 years. This takes into account the farmers’ costs of production and rewards them for high animal health and welfare standards and farm production standards.
Our payment model means we have been one of the highest payers of milk over the last 15 years, ensuring our farms are some of the best invested in in the industry. Currently our farmers get 32.8p per litre – one of the highest prices paid – which means they are not involved in the current row over the prices paid by supermarkets for producing milk.
We are committed to following this pricing model, which is based on independently verified cost indices to ensure that it is fair and transparent. Working in this way our farmers have the confidence to invest in their farms so that they can achieve the highest standards of food safety and welfare for the cows and the staff who work for them, hopefully helping create an attractive and viable business for the next generation to continue.
It is not just the farmers who supply us with that benefit from our high standards either. Our milk is actually healthier than the average pint, too; it has a lower saturated fat content than other milk as a result of changes to the way that cows are fed.
This is thanks to our long-standing relationships with our farmers, who we have been able to work with, as well as experts at the University of Reading, to introduce a feeding system that is practical and viable as well as scientifically sound. By cutting palm oil from cows’ feed we have reduced saturated fat by at least six per cent without any negative effect on the quality or taste of our milk.
So, buying your fresh milk from M&S really is a win-win. It has less saturated fat but tastes great, there is less impact on the environment due to the reduction in palm oil used in cows’ feed, cows are healthier as a result of our leading standards of animal health and welfare, and our farmers get a fair and transparent price for their milk!